Cook Culinary Studio puts a whole new spin on entertaining, with sizzling cooking and table styling workshops unlike any other.
Posted By thecook on April 13th, 2015


I have no clue why the person who invented this cake called it a “Little Black Dress Chocolate Cake”. The only little black thing you would fit into after eating this would be your socks. Containing almost a kilogram of chocolate, this has to be the richest chocolate cake I have ever eaten.

Featured in the March Food & Home, the cake is described as reliable-simple yet sexy. Baking is not my forte but even I have to admit it was easy, and topped with an unrivaled chocolate ganache, this cake is the most exquisite cake of all grown up chocolate cakes.

If I could offer any advice it would be to make the ganache first, as it takes time to harden in the fridge. Unfortunately there are two batches of mixing-so you need to give your bowl and whisk a clean in-between but that takes seconds.

A small bowl of the incredible ganache remained, but my friend shoved it into Tupperware before I could say “Gavsicon”. Apparently served with ice-cream it’s the best thing since chocolate sauce.

The cake just gets better the day after. It is staggeringly moist and fudgy and if you could refrain from eating a slice after slice, I am sure it would keep for a few days.

Little black dress chocolate cake

500g dark chocolate ( I used 70% buttons from Baking Bitz)
125g butter ( it calls for unsalted but I used salted)
6 extra-large free range eggs, separated
90g castor sugar
150ml thickened cream ( I used Woolies long life whipping cream)
2 tablespoons brandy or rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cream of tartar

450g dark chocolate
175g butter
600ml whipping cream ( I used regular cream)
¼ cup of glucose ( I used corn syrup)

First of all make the ganache

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water
Heat the cream and glucose in a pan, to just below boiling point
Combine with chocolate until smooth and place in the fridge, stirring every now and then, until thick.

For the cake

Preheat the oven to 180 ˚C
Grease a 24cm cake tin with butter and line the bottom with baking paper
Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water and set aside to cool slightly
Whip the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy. Stir in the cream, vanilla and rum cooled chocolate mixture
Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form and gently fold (in 3 batches) into the chocolate mixture.
Spread into the cake tin and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Cool completely before icing with the ganache.



Posted By thecook on March 21st, 2015





I remember reading a mail from my foodie friend Lisa, where she pointed out that she never felt inclined to experiment with celery sticks, lettuce leaves or any other guilt-free ingredients.

In a bid to find the best granola bar, perfect for school lunch boxes and as an accompaniment to a panna cotta for brunch, I must have tried 15 different recipes, something I would have never done with celery or apples.

As far as granola goes, nothing compares in taste and health to Fresh Earth’s sugar free, wheat-free cacao granola http://www.freshearth.co.za/store/p-3439-fresh-earth-raw-cacao-granola-350g.aspx, which is more of a decadent snack than a granola.

I substituted this dehydrated granola with the homemade granola in the Hummingbird Bakery’s no- bake peanut butter granola bars, and although both the original and cheat recipe were good, they were not great and I kept on experimenting.

Once I decided that these granola bars were finicky, very high in sugar and a general schlepp I decided that I needed to change course.

A Sweet Paul recipe gave me a new idea and direction and after another 5 experiments I found the perfect recipe.
It literally takes 3 minutes to make, another 15 to bake and my panel of testers awarded them second place (to Ottolengh’si granola bars).

Considering the difference in time and effort for these recipes (and with my COOK customers in mind) my granola rounds came out tops.

I used Woolworth’s granola in my recipe as it’s the healthiest of the unhealthy granolas but if you have a good sugar-free granola recipe or product , you should be able to convert it into these biscuits.



1 cup Woolworth’s vanilla and mixed seeds granola
1⁄3 cup shredded coconut
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon melted butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
• Combine and mix all ingredients and divide among a 12-hole silicone muffin tray
• Flatten with the lid of a spray n cook can, a bottle of vinegar or highball glass
• Bake at 170°C for about 12-15 minutes or until golden brown
• Allow to cool in the trays completely before removing. Keep in an airtight container for 2 days.
COOK’S Notes: Unfortunately only a silicone tray works.



Posted By thecook on March 18th, 2015

PicMonkey Collage



bunny pillow box

Tinyme – Woodland Easter Printables


vintage_easter_partycircleseaster hunt kitvintage_easter_tags

bunting 5



Easter Bunny Clip Art 5

Easter Bunny Paper 4


Easter Bunny Paper 1

Posted By thecook on March 15th, 2015

camilla birthday 002

A princess party (for my daughter and niece)  made easy by In Good Company’s extensive pretty princess party range of table décor, crowns, party bags and  games. We added their range of “make your own” mardi gras golden crowns and masks (with feathers and bling) as a craft activity and my brother-in-law provided the adults with homemade bread and short rib in a sticky Asian and star anise sauce. I found a princess Sophia piñata at Baking Bitz (Carrera shopping centre) and the kids were treated to homemade pizza’s from our pizza oven, made by Ricky, owner of Celestino’s in Dainfern.

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Posted By thecook on March 11th, 2015




Both my daughter and niece are tenacious little cooks and bakers. If they find me in the studio, preparing for COOK they drag their chairs towards the counter, call for their aprons, and harass me until I offer up something to whisk or stir.

Fortunately, I have started to collect easy- to- make- kids recipes, with just enough sugar to keep them silent. This recipe is a retro classic, which requires no baking, allows for constant tasting ( a vital element!) and allows me to continue with my preparation in peace.

Popping Princess Honey Bubbles (24)
4 cups of Rice Krispies
1 cup desiccated coconut
125g butter
½ cup castor sugar
2 tablespoons honey

• Melt the butter, honey and sugar
• Combine with remaining ingredients
• Spoon into cupcake wrappers and refrigerate for 15 minutes

Princess bags and plates http://www.ingoodcompany.co.za/







Posted By thecook on February 18th, 2015

chocolate granola 032

I have made granola and granola bars almost every day for the past month for my upcoming Easter course and so while reading the latest addition of the Food and Home, I add all the ingredients required for this chocolate granola.

Fresh Earth, in my opinion makes the ultimate sugar free chocolate granola but for those not wanting to travel all the way to Emmarentia here is a low sugar alternative, which is rather unusual, decadent and makes a gorgeous Easter gift.

chocolate granola 042


Food and Home’s chocolate granola

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Posted By thecook on February 8th, 2015



one of 3 new retro-chic Parker pens and a recipe file for your course notes.

Select either Pink, Coral or Grey-Green from the gorgeous new retro-chic range and both gifts will be couriered to 3 lucky people in time for Valentine’s day.
Follow Facebook.com/ParkerPenSA (see link below) , find the answer to the following question and post it on their page with “Cook and the year”

Posted By thecook on January 29th, 2015


Layer upon layers is the new style of wrapping and scrappers will love this method of using up scraps of papers, old tags, doily’s and embellishments. I say “scrappers” because non-scrappers will find these techniques challenging.

I also like to print free tags, paper and pictures, which can be sourced on Pinterest ( I have a printable page here http://www.pinterest.com/Cookstudio/printables-fonts-downloads/) and use paper place-mats –I used a pack of vintage paper place-mats I bought at Kamers vol geskenke market in Irene. Washi tape, old measuring tapes, bits of material and my new embellishment machine for the names add texture and originality.

White paper can be sourced from Macaroon in Greenside, white bags from Party/Flower spot in Woodmead while In Good Company have a range of gift wrapping packs called Petite Parcel sets. I used the little bags as gift tag holders and simply glued them to the wrapping.

Customers can view these wrapped gifts on the new EASTER BRUNCH course as they form part of the craft section.











Posted By thecook on January 24th, 2015





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Posted By thecook on January 9th, 2015



Surprisingly the second most popular dish from my Glimmer with Gold course-The Lindt trifles being the first- is this little dressing. Numerous friends cheekily popped past my house in December to pick up leftovers or begged me to make a bottle, as due to the frequent making of the dressing, I could whip one up in 5 minutes. It was used as dressings for their Christmas occasions, on chicken wraps, and even as a dip for slices of warm Ciabatta.

The tomato paste adds a bold tomato flavour without the added acidity from only sundried tomatoes, ginger and orange zest give a zing and fresh herbs round it off to make it a really show-off dressing for green salads and  roasted vegetables.


¼ cup rice wine vinegar
5 marinated Woolworth’s sundried tomato quarters
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons Falk/Maldon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar or 3 tablespoons honey/ Agave
Juice and zest of 1 orange
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (3 if you are using Woolies already grated in a tub)
Handful of Italian parsley (about ½ cup of leaves or more if you like)
Handful of mint
125 ml -180ml (1/2 cup to 3 x ¼ cups) extra virgin olive oil
• Blend all ingredients except oil and then add the oil slowly until creamy and combined

This dressing can be refrigerated for a week, but it tends to thicken so just thin it out with some water or bring back to room temperature.